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Opinions Sun, 29 Jan 2006

Northern Politicians; shed partisan colors and flex "joint" political muscle

The latest intra tribal flare-ups in the North have set tongues wagging and reinforced the region's reputation as a bastion of violence. Which explains why any attempt at highlighting the perennial problems of the area is done with an overwhelming sense of trepidation.

For one thing, the "Northern Problem" has been widely discussed and extensively documented that revisiting it seems purely an exercise in futility.

For another, Ghanaians are fatigued, literally; how many times have they been urged, pushed, implored, and cajoled to support a region that continues to be an albatross on the rest of the nation?

Throw in the north's combustible mix of protracted chieftaincy disputes and intense ethnic rivalries, and you can understand the huge skepticism and bland indifference from our compatriots.

But for the sake of national unity and given the unwillingness of rival factions in the region to engage in any kind of meaningful dialogue, it is absolutely important to, every now and then, shed light on the area's intractable plight if only to prick the conscience of northern politicians in Accra, who for most part, revel in proposing band-aid solutions to the region's decades-old problems, and to shame them into perforating the cloud of foolishness and mayhem that periodically shrouds on the regions.

And need I reiterate the importance of the north to the rest of the country so much so that it will be unwise to sweep its problems under the rug; its immense agricultural potential that was briefly explored in the 1970s by the late General Ignatius Acheampong, can still be harnessed for the good of the country.

Truth be told, the sporadic violence in the north is a product of frustration, ambivalence and weariness on the part of the inhabitants. With many industries ... Cotton Development Board, BAST Fibre Development Board, State Fishing Corporation, Ministry of Agriculture, Rice Mills Industries, Mencilo Rice Rice Mills, Pawlugu Tomato Factory, Bolgatanga Meat Factory ...that once were large employers shuttered, the future, as contemplated by many northerners is blight.

From all indications, the northern regions, despite the massive infusion of funds from Accra and non governmental agencies can't seem to navigate a way out of their unending morass of poverty and violence, which in essence means, there is an overriding need for our politicians to discard their petty partisanship and flex their political muscle to bring home projects that will create jobs and thus engage the energies and attention of able-bodied young northerners.

Recent reports of the struggles of the newly established University of Development Studies in Tamale with satellite campuses in Nyankpala and Bolgatanga is a prime example of the dearth of political will and commitment on the part of our politicians.

This column should not be misconstrued as a public stoning of northern politicians; to be fair, the current crop of northern politicians can't be blamed for problems inherited from their predecessors. But they are our elected representatives, wielding immense power and influence. The onus therefore falls on them to bring the misery of our people to an end.

But wait a minute; the idea that only our politicians can wave the magic wand and... poof... our problems will instantly disappear in a cloud of smoke is simplistic. Other groups of influential northerners can take the lead in bringing about sustained development and permanent peace to our troubled regions.

Groups that immediately come into mind is the educated northern elite and its counterpart in the business world. They are immensely capable of leading our people to a life of peace and prosperity.

Unfortunately, they can't be counted on to do any much good. The reason is simple; they are so beholden to special interest groups in the area that prodding them to act in the supreme interest of the region is tantamount to flogging a dead horse.

But the most distressing aspect is to see our people engage in lawlessness and in the destruction of lives and property. The unbounded and unreasoning rage that fuels these acts is self-immolating. Let's stop it.

As the northern regions...continue to regress with a corresponding precipitous decline in the quality of life of our people...chronic water problems, dilapidated and barely functioning hospitals, schools starved of funds and allowed to wither and eventually die...UDS is a prime example...the "northern problem" will continue to fester and beguile the region for years to come.

And the rest of the country may just as well give up on us, if it hasn't already done so. And don't we northerners dare point an accusing finger.



Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Yahaya, Moses Kofi